On Tuesday evening, the Vice Presidential candidates will talk at each other in front of us, the American people, and make the case for themselves and their respective Presidential nominees. Hopefully, this debate will cover some of the typically polarizing issues that the Presidential debate missed (abortion, poverty, and LGBTQ rights) and will also offer some follow-up on the news cycle headlines (Trump's tax returns being merely one).
Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and Indiana Governor Mike Pence combined might not yield the drama that Donald Trump brings to public forums, but it's good to keep in mind that tonight will not simply be a friendly chat between two vaguely bland dads: It will be a chat between someone who signed one of the most extreme anti-abortion bills in the country into law (Pence) and someone who did not (Kaine). Here's a list of the Indiana Governor's worst policy initiatives to peruse before or while you gaze upon his soulless, crepey face on your television or laptop screen:
Pence tried to block displaced Syrian refugees from settling in Indiana because he suspects they are terrorists.
Indiana is a part of the national Refugee Social Services Program. However, under Pence's direction, the state recently stopped funding to organizations that help relocate Syrian refugees because of "asserted doubts about the effectiveness of the federal government's background checks of refugees from that country," according to court documents. Pence doesn't think this is discrimination. But in a court order filed yesterday, the federal court has basically told Pence to stop doing this because, well, it is discrimination.
"[Pence] argues that his policy of excluding Syrian refugees is based not on nationality and thus is not discriminatory, but is based solely on the threat he thinks they pose to the safety of residents of Indiana," Judge Richard Posner wrote in his decision. "But that's the equivalent of his saying (not that he does say) that he wants to forbid black people to settle in Indiana not because they're black but because he's afraid of them, and since race is therefore not his motive he isn't discriminating. But that of course would be racial discrimination, just as his targeting Syrian refugees is discrimination on the basis of nationality."
Pence proposed paying for aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina by cutting billions of dollars from a proposed Medicare program that would help poor senior citizens.
He even had a name for it: It was called "Operation Offset." According to CBS News, Pence argued that relief funds for Hurricane Katrina should come from cuts to a prescription drug benefit to low-income seniors under Medicare, while refusing to consider forgoing the continuation George W. Bush's tax cuts to the wealthy. (Let's not forget that Trump and Pence want to continue giving those tax breaks to top individual earners, a practice that economists say has led to rising income inequality.)
Pence voted against equal pay for women.
While the Lilly Ledbetter Act passed in spite of him, Mike Pence wanted to deny women the ability file pay discrimination lawsuits after "180 days of learning of the discrimination."
Pence co-sponsored a bill that would "redefine rape."
Apparently, the Hyde Amendment wasn't severe enough for him. As a congressman in 2011, Mike Pence wanted to make sure that no federal funding would ever go toward helping women access abortion care. In order to do so, he supported a bill that defined rape as "forcible rape," among other extreme provisions. Advocates immediately noted this language—let alone the entire bill if it was to pass—was a backwards and dangerous thing for women.
"It speaks to a distinction between rape where there must be some element of force in order to rise to the standard, and rape where there is not," Steph Sterling, the director of government relations for the National Women's Law Center, told the Washington Post. "The concern here is that it takes us back to a time where just saying no was not enough."
Pence threatened to increase penalties for low-level drug offenders.
Nearly everyone agrees that the war on drugs has been a politically motivated disaster that has fueled the disproportionate incarceration of black people—except for Mike Pence. Many states in the US are gradually moving toward weed legalization and, at least, decriminalization. But in 2013, as the governor of Indiana, Pence wanted to broaden felony charges for marijuana possession and increase prison sentences. Some say that Pence was financially motivated to increase the criminalization of drug offenses, thanks to his relationship with a private prison company, GEO Group. This year, he reinstated mandatory minimums for drug crimes. (Bonus: Pence also refuses to pardon a black man who was wrongly convicted.)
Pence supported a bill that would require women who sought abortion services to pay for a funeral for their unborn fetus.
An anti-abortion bill that Pence signed earlier this year put into places numerous restrictions on women's access to reproductive healthcare (it has since been blocked by a federal judge). The legislation stipulates that doctors must show women who want an abortion an ultrasound of the fetus, it mandates that abortion clinics have admitting privileges—an expensive and needless regulatory burden that causes a lot of clinics to shut down—and bars women from getting an abortion in cases of known fetal disability. But worst of all, it requires that women would have to get their fetuses cremated or buried, a stipulation with no justification whatsoever—other than to shame women who need abortion care.
Pence signed LGBTQ discrimination into law.
Many states have taken to passing Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA), but Indiana's RFRA is particularly egregious. The language in the bill allows for any businesses to discriminate against LQBTQ individuals using religion as a defense, despite existing civil rights protections.